PREGNANCY, NURTITION & SUPPLEMENTATION
VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS IN PREGNANCY
Medifit advises to take following supplements during pregnancy
Vitamin C &
Eating a healthy, varied diet in pregnancy will help you to get most of the vitamins and minerals you need. There are some vitamins and minerals that are especially important.
It’s best to get vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, but when you are pregnant you will need to take some supplements as well, to make sure you get everything you need. It’s recommended that you take:
- 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day throughout your pregnancy – you should also carry on taking this after your baby is born if you breastfeed
- 400 micrograms of folic acid each day – you should take this from before you are pregnant until you are 12 weeks pregnant
Do not take vitamin A supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A (retinol), as too much could harm your baby.
You can get supplements from pharmacies and supermarkets, or your GP may be able to prescribe them for you. If you want to get your folic acid or vitamin D from a multivitamin tablet, make sure that the tablet does not contain vitamin A (or retinol).
FOLIC ACID BEFORE AND DURING PREGNANCY
Folic acid is important for pregnancy, as it can help to prevent birth defects known as neural tube defects, including spina bifida. You should take a 400 microgram folic acid tablet every day while you are trying to get pregnant and until you are 12 weeks pregnant. If you didn’t take folic acid before you conceived, you should start as soon as you find out that you are pregnant.
You should also eat foods that contain folate (the natural form of folic acid), such as green leafy vegetables and brown rice. Some breakfast cereals and some fat spreads such as margarine have folic acid added to them. It is difficult to get the amount of folate recommended for pregnancy from food alone, which is why it is important to take a folic acid supplement.
Read more about healthy eating in pregnancy.
HIGHER DOSE FOLIC ACID
Some women have an increased risk of having a pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect, and are advised to take a higher dose of 5 milligrams (mg) of folic acid each day until they are 12 weeks pregnant. Women have an increased risk if:
- they or their partner have a neural tube defect
- they have had a previous pregnancy affected by a neural tube defect
- they or their partner have a family history of neural tube defects
- they have diabetes
In addition, women who are taking anti-epileptic medication should consult their GP for advice, as they may also need to take a higher dose of folic acid. Find out about epilepsy, anti-epileptic medication and pregnancy.
If any of the above applies to you, talk to your GP as they can prescribe a higher dose of folic acid. Your GP or midwife may also recommend additional screening tests during your pregnancy.
VITAMIN D IN PREGNANCY
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are needed to keep bones and teeth healthy.
You need to take vitamin D during your pregnancy to provide your baby with enough vitamin D for the first few months of its life. You should take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D each day when you are pregnant and if you breastfeed.
In children, not having enough vitamin D can cause their bones to soften and can lead to rickets (a disease that affects bone development in children).
Vitamin D can be found naturally in oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines), eggs and meat. Some manufacturers add it to some breakfast cereals, soya products, some dairy products, powdered milk, and fat spreads such as margarine. It is difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone.
Our bodies also make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to summer sunlight. The amount of time you need in the sun to make enough vitamin D is different for every person, and depends on things such as skin type, the time of day and the time of year. However, you don’t need to sunbathe: the amount of sun you need to make enough vitamin D is less than the amount that causes tanning or burning.
If you have darker skin (for example, if you are of African, African Caribbean or south Asian origin) or always cover your skin when outside, you may be at particular risk of vitamin D deficiency. Talk to your midwife or doctor if this applies to you.
IRON IN PREGNANCY
If you are short of iron, you’ll probably get very tired and may suffer from anaemia. Lean meat, green leafy vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts contain iron. If you’d like to eat peanuts or foods that contain peanuts (such as peanut butter) during pregnancy, you can do so as part of a healthy balanced diet unless you’re allergic to them, or your health professional advises you not to.
Many breakfast cereals have iron added. If the iron level in your blood becomes low, your GP or midwife will advise you to take iron supplements.
VITAMIN C IN PREGNANCY
Vitamin C protects cells and helps to keep them healthy.
A balanced diet containing fruit and vegetables, including broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, bell peppers, and blackcurrants, can provide all the vitamin C that you need.
CALCIUM IN PREGNANCY
Calcium is vital for making your baby’s bones and teeth. Dairy products and fish with edible bones – such as sardines – are rich in calcium. Breakfast cereals, dried fruit – such as figs and apricots – bread, almonds, tofu (a vegetable protein made from soya beans) and green leafy vegetables – such as watercress, broccoli and curly kale – are other good sources of calcium.
You also need to know which foods to avoid in pregnancy.
VEGETARIAN, VEGAN AND SPECIAL DIETS IN PREGNANCY
A varied and balanced vegetarian diet should give enough nutrients for you and your baby during pregnancy. However, you might find it more difficult to get enough iron and vitamin B12. Talk to your midwife or doctor about how to make sure you are getting enough of these important nutrients.
If you are vegan (you cut out all animal products from your diet), or you follow a restricted diet because of food intolerance (for example, a gluten-free diet for coeliac disease) or for religious reasons, talk to your midwife or GP. Ask to be referred to a dietitian for advice on how to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need for you and your baby.
PREGNANCY AND PRENATAL VITAMINS
What are prenatal vitamins?
Eating a healthy diet is always a wise idea — especially during pregnancy. It’s also a good idea during pregnancy to take a prenatal vitamin to help cover any nutritional gaps in the mother’s diet.
Prenatal vitamins contain many vitamins and minerals. Their folic acid, iron, iodine, and calcium are especially important.
Folic Acid, Iron, and Calcium
Folic acid helps prevent neural tube birth defects, which affect the brain and spinal cord.
Neural tube defects develop in the first 28 days after conception, before many women know they are pregnant. Because about half of all pregnancies are unplanned, it’s recommended that any woman who could get pregnant take 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily, starting before conception and continuing for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
A woman who has already had a baby with a neural tube defect should talk to herhealth care provider about whether she might need to take a different dose of folic acid. Studies have shown that taking a larger dose (up to 4,000 micrograms) at least one month before and during the first trimester may be beneficial for those women, but check with your doctor first.
Foods containing folic acid include green leafy vegetables, nuts, beans, citrus fruits, and many fortified foods. Even so, it’s a good idea to take a supplement with the right amount of folic acid as a backup.
Calcium is also important for a pregnant woman. It can help prevent her from losing her own bone density as the baby uses calcium for its own bone growth.
Iodine is critical for a woman’s healthy thyroid function during pregnancy. A deficiency in iodine can cause stunted physical growth, severe mental disability, and deafness. Not enough iodine can lead to miscarriage and stillbirth.
Iron helps blood — in both the mother and baby — carry oxygen.
What to Look for in Prenatal Vitamins
Look for a prenatal vitamin that includes:
- 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid.
- 400 IU of vitamin D.
- 200 to 300 milligrams (mg) of calcium.
- 70 mg of vitamin C.
- 3 mg of thiamine.
- 2 mg of riboflavin.
- 20 mg of niacin.
- 6 mcg of vitamin B12.
- 10 mg of vitamin E.
- 15 mg of zinc.
- 17 mg of iron.
- 150 micrograms of iodine
In some cases, your doctor will give you a prescription for a certain type of prenatal vitamin.
If Your Prenatal Vitamin Makes You Nauseous
Some prenatal vitamins can cause nausea in an already nauseous pregnant woman. If that happens to you, talk to your health care provider. He or she may be able to prescribe a different kind of prenatal vitamin — for example, some women may do better with chewable or liquid vitamins rather than those you swallow whole.
PROTEIN SHAKES DURING PREGNANCY
Protein is essential for a mother and the growing baby inside her. In fact, a pregnant woman should get 70 grams of protein each day during the second and third trimesters. This is crucial to help the baby keep growing like it should, and it also lowers the possibility of complications during pregnancy. This can lead to a healthier delivery, too.
Protein shakes might seem like a natural way to meet the protein requirements. But keep in mind that some shakes contain herbs and other additives that might be harmful during pregnancy. Here’s what you need to know about protein shakes during pregnancy.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROTEIN SHAKES
So protein shakes are good for you, right? Protein shakes during pregnancy might seem like a sure thing, but before you reach for the blender, take a look at these tips on choosing the right protein shakes.
1. Choose a Protein Shake–Read the Label
Shakes vary in protein content. For example, a person who is body building would want more protein than a person who is running a marathon. Read the label to see just how many grams of protein the shake has, as well as other ingredients that you might not need to put into your body when you are pregnant.
2. Know Different Types of Protein in Protein Shakes
Protein can come from a wide variety of sources, including eggs, whey, casein, milk, soy, and rice. If you have an allergy to any of these, make sure to avoid protein shakes that have even traces of it in the mixture. You should also look into how the protein is purified, as that helps determine how well your body breaks it down. If you have allergies to certain types of protein, keep in mind that you might be able to tolerate soy.
3. More Notes on Whey Protein and Soy Protein
Whey and soy protein are very different types of protein – here’s what you need to know about each.
- Whey Protein. Whey protein is made from cow’s milk, so if you are allergic to milk, this might not set well with your stomach. It is high in amino acids, which helps the body build tissues, and there are no problems associated with whey protein as long as you are not allergic to it.
- Soy Protein. Soy protein is derived from plant sources, and is a great option for those who can’t tolerate other types of protein, or for those who are vegan. However, some studies have indicated concerns about fetal development when a mother drinks a great deal of soy protein. There could also be high levels of aluminum in the soy, given the manufacturing process.
WHAT ARE THE PRECAUTIONS TO TAKE?
Now that you know more about the options for protein shakes during pregnancy, here’s more information on the precautions you might want to take.
1. Count the Calories
Keep in mind that during pregnancy, you only need an additional 300 calories per day. That means that a single protein shake could add a great deal more in calories than you need. Plan your meals accordingly so that you don’t get too many calories each day.
2. Avoid Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are everywhere, but are they healthy for you? The FDA has approved several chemical sweeteners for use by pregnant women, but there are studies out there that call the safety into question, regardless of FDA approval. For instance, sucralose has been found to cause DNA damage in mice, and there is a link between aspartame and brain tumors. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so focus on protein shakes that contain natural sweeteners, such as fructose, lactose, or stevia. To be even more natural, look to options like powdered honey.
3. Consider Other Sources of Protein
Many women will decide to avoid protein shakes during pregnancy because of the questionable ingredients. In that case, work to get the protein you need through the food you consume. Stock up meats, fish, legumes, eggs, and dairy. To be even safer, look for organic forms of these items, such as grass-fed beef, farm-raised fish, and free-range, organic eggs. Quinoa is a new food on the market that has been found to have plenty of iron and protein, and you can stock up on that, too. Be sure to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, too. If you are vegetarian or vegan, speak to your doctor about protein you can get through foods, or about a supplement that might help.